Thursday, March 24, 2011

Elizabeth Taylor Has Left the Stage

by Pa Rock
Film Buff 

Elizabeth Taylor Hilton Wilding Todd Fisher Burton Burton Warner Fortensky Taylor has made her final exit from life's stage, and I suspect that we are all somewhat poorer for her passing.   Liz was seventy-nine-years-old at the time of her death in Los Angeles on March 23rd.

Her first movie appearance was when she was a scant 10-years-old, and by the age of twelve she had the lead in 1944's National Velvet (well, the lead if you don't count the horse!)  Over the years she developed into a formidable actress and true screen legend.

To me, Elizabeth Taylor's high-water mark as an actress will always be as the drunken, foul-mouthed wife in Mike Nichols' 1966 film version of Edward Albee's play, Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolfe?  In that movie, she and her then husband, Richard Burton, play a dysfunctional married couple, George and Martha.  George is a college professor who has not lived up to his wife's expectations.  Late one evening they invite a young professor and his spouse home for a nightcap.  The younger couple, Nick and Honey (George Segal and the wonderful Sandy Dennis), watch in horror as George and Martha begin verbally assaulting each other, and eventually they get pulled into the warfare.  The entire movie is a long, but fascinating, drunken battle of wits.

Elizabeth Taylor was a prominent advocate in the fight against AIDS.  She was so outspoken on this cause that the ignorant Phelps klan of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka have already announced plans to picket her funeral.  (Nobody upstaged Elizabeth Taylor in life, and I am confident that the activities of this loony group of homophobic morons will only make her legend more enduring.   She would probably feel honored to know that she inspired their wrath!)

Elizabeth Taylor was also known for being a buddy to the late Michael Jackson, and she gave the singer the nickname "King of Pop."  When Jackson was trying to rebuild his reputation by granting a long interview to Oprah Winfrey at his Neverland Ranch, who just happened to be lounging on his couch as the cameramen panned the living room but the regal Liz!

The actress was often defined by her far-ranging field of husbands.  She earned the enmity of the nation when she stole actor/singer Eddie Fisher from Debbie Reynolds. Eddie and Debbie (Carrie Fisher's parents) were thought of as "America's sweethearts."   Eddie Fisher once remarked that "A fifty thousand dollar diamond would keep Elizabeth Taylor happy - for about four days!"  Richard Burton was able to hang onto her for a much longer period of time, but he also gave her a much bigger diamond - over 69 karats!   Another famous husband was John Warner, a Virginia politician who married her shortly before he was elected to the United States Senate.    For a few years people went to Washington D.C. dinner parties just for the possibility of seeing the famous actress.

Taylor and Burton took their legendary diamond onto "The Lucy Show" in the 1970's, and the hapless Lucy, of course, seized an opportunity to try on the spectacular ring - and got it stuck to her finger!

Elizabeth Taylor grew with age and was often the butt of late-night television jokes about her increasing weight.  Joan Rivers once famously described her as "a woman who puts mayonnaise on an aspirin!"

But, love her or mock her, Elizabeth Taylor had an amazing life - and she was able to live it on her own terms.  She may have left the stage, but her impact will be felt for generations!

1 comment:

Don said...

Those enchanting violet eyes exerted an almost magnetic pull on two generations of moviegoers.

After seeing Butterfield 8, I still remember being amazed that such a beautiful woman also was such a gifted actress, such a charming human being. She wore her glamor lightly, almost as if surprised by its presence.

Elizabeth was one of a kind.